Simplify the Holidays

Spreading the good word I heard on Olin Lagon’s  Social Actions blog.  Check out the Simplify the Holidays campaign–hey I can DO this stuff: potted christmas trees, edible gifts, cleaning up the streets!  What a great way to celebrate!

Social Actions makes making a difference easier

I earlier posted a video and post about The Girl Effect.  I found out about it through, an incredible organization which makes online philanpthropy easy.  The Girl Effect is supported by one of a multitude of incredible online philanthropy sites.  This one is called  At sites like this, you can chose specific projects covering a huge range of issues.  Many of the projects support one specific individual or one small community–guaranteeing that your dollars go to the people whose pictures you see, whose stories you learn, and whose lives you can change.  I know this works, because my friend Christine Egger put together a project last year to help put a homeless Nepali boy in school (  I went with her to Nepal to meet the boy and the adults who were helping him and I have seen the dedication and responsibility that one-to-one giving generates.  I am a true convert to this type of online helping.

From this experience, Christine partnered in the development of a google-like search engine that compiles projects from over thirty websites like called  This website serves as the portal to accessing thousands, if not more, ways to make the world a better place and is funded completly independently of donations to the websites.  The projects can be searched and sorted according to your personal preferences, and you can put notices about them on websites, blogs, in e-mails, etc.  Again, your money goes directly to the people and organizations listed in the proposal, no middle-men, no skimming off the top.

But Social Actions is more than the database, it’s an online community for microphilanthropy (also called peer-to-peer giving).  The blog site is designed to be a completely open and transparent community–anyone can join and have a profile, write blogs, etc.  They are also developing ways for both “experts” and “lay people” to rank or rate individual projects on a variety of criteria.  They have used Twitter to compile updates around specific actions (like the poverty and water actions list I have in my side bar on the left) and ANYONE can create their own twitter group using their tool!  Plus, they are expanding every day, building on ideas from members and making the site more responsive, more interactive, and more exciting.

I have been watching the development of for almost a year now and I am no longer content to sit on the sidelines.  This is an INCREDIBLE tool!!!  As the economy struggles, rather than listing more consumer crap you don’t need on your holiday gift list, why not list the social actions you’d like your friends and family to support in your name?  Just a thought.

Inspirational–The Girl Effect

Wow, meaningful, relevant, beautiful, and forceful.  This is as inspirational as they come.

Go ahead, change the world one girl at a time.

Good Sheet: First 100 Days

My friend sent me an interesting break down of the last 2 generations of presidential first 100 days.  Hope to see Obama put his to good use.

Find it here:

Regional Reading: North Africa and Christie

Haven’t added much to my book reviews as I just finished A Traveler’s History of North Africa–a very dense but very good history of the whole region.

A Traveller's History of North Africa (Traveller's History) A Traveller’s History of North Africa by Barnaby Rogerson

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well-researched and detailed history of (surprise surprise) North Africa. A bit dry, but so informative it should be a reference book. Plus he sourced “Lords of the Atlas” one of my favorites about the Moroccan Berbers of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

For quick refreshment after the Traveler’s History, I picked up Christie’s They Came to Baghdad.

They Came to Baghdad They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

rating: 3 of 5 stars

More of a spy thriller than a mystery. Not quite classic Agatha, but still a fun read with lots of twists and turns. Doesn’t hurt that it’s set (mostly) in Baghdad, great sense of what the colonial life used to be. Could use a character list though, we get introduced to lots of people in short succession and it’s easy to lose track of which is who. Good read, but I don’t need to own it.

BTW, I tried to read “A Girls Guide to Kissing Frogs” but couldn’t get past the third or forth chapter–banal and vapid.  Now I’m digging into Good Faith–as of page 13 it’s readable but I’m not yet hooked.

Get reading folks!!  And join–great place to learn about books!

Bill Moyers on Mountain Top Mining

Thanks to Monica for forwarding this link. The campaign horse race coverage seems to hide the real news! Learn more and do something at Bill Moyers’ site.
clipped from

Not Campaign News . A Bill Moyers Essay
There’s nothing make-believe about this. Remember these scenes of mountain top mining in West Virginia? Companies blow those mountains sky-high to expose the coal, then haul away tons of rock and debris and dump the waste into valley areas. To protect the quality of the water, they’re not supposed to pile the stuff within 100 feet of rivers and creeks.
Now, the Interior Department is one of those government agencies that’s practically been turned over to the industries it’s supposed to regulate. So as a parting gift, the President’s appointees at Interior have now officially proposed granting the coal companies their wish – to dump at will.
There’s a 30-day period for public comment and review before the proposal takes effect, so you can find out how to register your opinion – pro or con – at our site on
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